Designing successful virtual events is more critical now than ever. As businesses get back on their feet and try to recoup from the squeezed budgets and revenue losses of 2020, they’ve realized that running profitable events in the coming months is non-negotiable.
If you are an event manager who made it through the 2020 pivot to virtual events and lived to tell about it, we salute you.
It was a challenging year. You had to figure out how to shift your strategy, prove value to stakeholders, and compete for virtual attendees’ attention. And as an additional feat, you needed to maintain a positive event ROI. That’s a virtual magic trick.
Thankfully, virtual events have now become more commonplace and a viable (and desirable) substitute for in-person events.
Failing to set event objectives and KPIs correctly can negatively affect your event’s success and impact. This article will provide an overview of how to create virtual event goals, objectives, and KPIs, a necessary first step that drives your event strategy and planning.
How to Define Virtual Event Goals
A successful virtual event starts with the right event goals and ends with measuring the right data.
Goal setting is critical because it forms the foundation of your virtual event strategy and guides your planning steps and execution. Your strategy details how you will delight and engage attendees, demonstrate value to sponsors, promote advertising opportunities, determine who will be involved with event planning, and so much more.
Defining metrics and KPIs is also critical because they drive your data-gathering and tell the story of how well your virtual event performed and whether or not you achieved your goals.
But before you define virtual event objectives and KPIs, you must define your event goals.
Defining virtual event goals starts with asking the right questions. If you’ve been accustomed to setting goals for in-person events, the process is similar. Here are some questions to start the goal discovery process.
- What do you hope to get out of the event?
- How will your organization benefit?
- Why do you want to hold this virtual event? What was the initial impetus?
- Who are the attendees?
- How does this virtual event align with your business goals?
- What do you hope attendees, presenters, and sponsors get out of the event?
- What would a successful virtual event look like once it’s over?
We created these questions to get your mind thinking about the end first—what does a successful event look like? When it’s over, what outcomes will satisfy your reasons for wanting to host this event? Start at the end and work backward. Below are some examples:
Get Specific with Your Virtual Event Goals
Specificity is critical when creating your virtual event goals. “Increase brand awareness” sounds nice on paper, but without specific benchmarks, you have nothing to measure.
Make your goals specific and measurable. Instead of “Generate more leads,” replace it with something like, “Generate 25% more leads by the end of the third quarter compared to the second quarter.”
Also, your goals should be attainable. Take into consideration the results of your last event and factor in your resources and budget. Setting lofty goals can set you up for failure and disappointment.
Pro tip: The more specific and measurable your goals and objectives, the easier it is to determine which event metrics are necessary for virtual event success.
How to Define Virtual Event Objectives and KPIs
We discussed how to define virtual event goals; the next step is to define objectives and KPIs.
Goals and objectives seem similar, but conceptually they do not hold the same meaning. Goals are specific and measurable actions, while objectives define the actual methods and tactics to reach those goals. Objectives detail how you will reach your goal. They will outline your strategy and provide a roadmap of steps to reach your goals.
Your objectives will also define which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are essential to quantifying your goals and measuring your event’s success.
KPIs measure whether or not you reached your goals. They provide data on the event’s happenings, enable you to more closely measure the success of your virtual event, and provide insights to inform future event decisions.
Let’s look at a simplified example of how goals, objectives, and KPIs relate.
Increase awareness of a new product and generate 1,000 new signups by the end of the third quarter
- Generate new product recruits by attracting new prospects and educating existing customers via targeted attendee-approved event content.
- Increase attendee and sponsor engagement with real-time interaction and targeted networking.
- Provide post-event follow-ups and feedback surveys to generate leads, gather feedback, and encourage post-event networking and community gatherings.
- (Main) Qualified leads and product signups (New and existing customers)
- (Main) Promo code tracking (if applicable)
- (Secondary) Number of registrations
- (Secondary) Attendee session numbers and duration
- (Secondary) Social media engagement before, during, and after the event (Shares, comments, branded hashtag use)
Secondary KPIs can provide insight into the actions that feed into your primary data. For example, let’s say that you generated more leads on day two of your event than the other days. Review your secondary metrics from day two to identify any data that could explain why.
Aside from these metrics, there are dozens more to track for each event. In the next section, we detail general and granular metrics grouped by categories.
How do you know which metrics to track?
Again, it will depend on your event goals and objectives.
For example, if you want to gather data on attendee satisfaction to measure brand awareness, you might track metrics such as:
- Session attendance
- Event content, social shares, and engagement
- Sponsor leads
- Feedback generated from surveys and polls
If you want to assess the effectiveness of sponsor campaigns to drive new promotional opportunities, track metrics such as:
- Email click-through rates
- Attendee engagement with sponsors (number of chat messages and conversations)
- Attendance for sponsored sessions
- Sponsor banner engagement
- Sponsored virtual booth visitors
Get proven insights from virtual event experts, plus a sneak peek of the Socio platform! Watch our recent webinar, “Raising the Bar on Virtual Events,” and discover pro tips and learnings from powering thousands of successful virtual events.
41 Virtual Event KPIs to Extract Real-Time Data and Measure Performance
Below is a list of virtual event KPIs to track, organized by category for quick reference. These metrics provide a good starting point to assist you with measuring your virtual event’s performance.
Number of registrants compared to check-ins
Gather registrant data (number of registrants) and dial down into more specifics such as ticket type, popular days to purchase, preferred pricing, preferred packages, etc.
Review how many registrants checked in to join your virtual event compared to how many registered (registrants vs check-ins).
This data will reveal the effectiveness of your pre-event promotions. Use these metrics to compare event performance over time. Also, gather data on returning attendees, people who attended a past event and returned to register for another.
Attendee activity and responsiveness
How engaged are your attendees? Gather attendee data that measures their responsiveness to your content and activities.
- Session attendance and duration
- Session drop-off rate
- Attendee-to-attendee engagement (new connections, social posts, conversations, proposed, accepted and rejected meetings, networking activity)
- Gamification (top performers, leaderboards, active participants, points per user)
- Pageviews (Individual session pages)
- Live/recorded session views
- Device usage
- Live chat activity
- Number of Q&A questions
- Live poll participation
- Quantity and quality of social media mentions during the event
To learn how to keep your virtual attendees more engaged, read our recent article on running successful virtual events.
Sessions and presenters
In addition to measuring attendee engagement during sessions, assess session popularity with metrics such as:
- Session ratings – Drill down into topics and session duration to find more data on attendee preferences
- Popular topics of interest
- Speaker ratings
- Session favorites
- Gathering data on some of the above metrics will also require implementing a survey or live poll to question attendees and garner feedback.
Sponsor engagement and satisfaction
Many event managers rely on sponsorship revenue to fund virtual events, so proving sponsor ROI is crucial for attracting new promotional opportunities.
Gather sponsor satisfaction data via surveys and NPS scores. Also, assess attendee-to-sponsor engagement (conversations, meetings, follow ups) and sponsor promotions results (banner clicks and views) within your event management platform.
Leads, sales, marketing, and revenue
Depending on your virtual event goals, you may want to measure one or more of the following:
- Qualified leads
- Cost per customer acquisition
- Gross revenue
- Return on investment (profit or loss)
- Website traffic
- Email signups/leads
- Email marketing (open rates, clickthrough rates)
Measure the above metrics before, during, and after your virtual event to analyze pre- and post-event activity
Post-event feedback is crucial to understand how well your event performed to inform future event decision-making. Below are some methods and metrics for post-event data compilation.
- Survey feedback
- Number of survey responses
- NPS (Net Promoter Scores)
- Qualified, leads, acquired customers, website traffic, social numbers – re-analyze your marketing metrics after the event
- Community involvement How many attendees stick after the event around and engage on your event app?
Pro Tip: With every objective, focus on the three phases of an attendee’s journey: pre-event, mid-event, and post-event. Your objectives should ideally cover all attendee touch points and focus on the attendees’ experience before, during (so you can make quick decisions), and after the event.
Achieve Your Virtual Event Goals With Socio
Events should be measurable, optimizable, and repeatable so event organizers can prove ROI and justify budgets. You can’t optimize feedback and attract sponsors with data based on assumption and guesswork.
We’re not just talking about basic post-event data (leads and bookings), which most event management platforms offer. You need detailed analytics that paint a more granular picture of how well your event performed.
You also need real-time feedback during the event. How well are your attendees engaging with your sponsors? Are they making meaningful connections and networking? You might need to make immediate changes if a feature is not performing as expected.
Socio is an end-to-end event management platform that equips event organizers with the most comprehensive reporting in the event industry. Our Data Dashboard records every user action, whether during or after your event, giving you a 360-degree view of your event data.
High-Level Event Overview
Socio’s Data Dashboard provides a high-level overview of attendee engagement and user contributions. At a glance, review data from metrics such as:
- Social shares
- Attendee messages
- Minutes open
- Total platform users (sort by day, week, or month)
- Attendee logins (by device and operating system)
- Push notifications performance
In addition to a high-level overview, the Data Dashboard offers more granular data with a timeline of user’s actions. Review the attendee journey and their touchpoints with your content. Organize and export data according to account activity, connections, messages, and event activity.
Socio’s Data Dashboard also tracks social activity to gauge the effectiveness of your event’s networking. Access data that reveals profile views, posts made on the platform’s social wall, proposed meetings, total conversations, new connections, and more. Gain a deep understanding of how your virtual event’s networking and engagement efforts perform, down to the attendee level.
Socio also provides data on gamification and other engagement features.
Features Comparison Dashboard
How well is your content resonating? What sessions are most popular? Which sponsors are enjoying the highest engagement? Get answers to these questions from real-time data with a glance of Socio’s Feature Comparison Dashboard.
You can even drill down into individual features for more granular metrics.
Socio’s Data Dashboard also provides sponsor engagement metrics to offer sponsors a glimpse into their promotion’s performance. Prove sponsor ROI with hard data and get more interest from sponsors for your virtual events.
- Sponsor banners (clicks and views)
- User profiles/social data of attendees who engaged with sponsor content
- Sponsor profile metrics (favorited, requested follow ups, meetings booked)
- Sponsor push notifications performance
Take Socio for a Test Drive
Take the guesswork out of measuring your virtual event’s performance. Get hard data on what’s working (and what isn’t) and easily prove event ROI for stakeholders and power future events with robust insights and data-driven decisions.
If you want to take a closer look at Socio’s Data Dashboard and analytics features, reach out here to request a demo!